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UK Coaching Team
Talent and Performance Supporting Specific Needs

Haj Bhania on Coaching, Diversity and Mentoring

Richard Jones meets groundbreaking wheelchair basketball coach Haj Bhania, who was named Coach of the Year at the 2019 British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards. Topics of discussion include his person-centred philosophy

When UK Sport's World Class Programme provided the funding for full-time coaches at British Wheelchair Basketball (BWBB), Haj Bhania was one of the coaches tasked with leading the sport forward.

With additional funding, BWBB has expanded in recent years. As a result, Haj's role has also evolved. Each new development has brought new challenges, as he explains:

"I coached the GB junior team voluntarily between 1997 to 2007 and we developed a number of athletes who progressed on to the senior programme. Then in 2007, I was appointed full-time GB junior head coach and men's head coach in 2013.

"The challenges have included developing the playing squad to increase the selection pool, being competitive and meeting the World Class Performance Programme targets."

Haj's coaching methods

On a technical level, Haj and his team prioritise the full spectrum of skills, including movement and chair skills.

"We expect athletes to have a level of chair skills, and if they don't, we are very focused on fundamental chair skills like stopping and moving, where their hands are placed, how they turn, what's their push like, what's their trunk like?

"Once we get to a higher level, we are looking at pace and speed and different types of actions, as well as how do you control a ball and what type of turn do you make?"

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